I frequently hear the same kind of comments from folks such as: "I'm in a rut", "I can't seem to find my way around the fret board", "I can only comfortably play a song in one key, maybe two", or "how do you play up the neck like you do?".  I know we've all been there - behind the huge gate separating us from where we are and where we desire to beand a few have made it through to the other side... or so it seems. And if we can just get past this gate, we'll be cooler than ever! Well, not really. The 'gate' is really one of a bazillion gates, or levels of understanding and musical ability that we achieve throughout our musical lives, and yet there are more to come. Remember this: There is no such thing as a magic pill.

I have also heard this: "How do you get to Carnegie Hall"? "Practice, practice, practice"!

And this: "OK, so now what? I spend time on my guitar every day, at least a few times a week, or at least once a week, but I don't feel like I am improving".

And one more: "I play my guitar all the time, I play it while watching TV"

Well, having the guitar in your hands is a good thing, that's why we have them. BUT, playing your guitar while watching TV doesn't accomplish both things, and barely accomplishes one of them... well, watching TV doesn't take much focus these days.

So, I offer the following to you - free of charge -  so that maybe you could get more out of your time with your guitar or other musical instrument.

Here are my 5 bullet points to consider when practicing.
  • Time Spent (with your instrument)
  • Dedicated Time (no interruptions if possible)
  • Theory of Relativity *musically speaking (how you understand the instrument, how to gain understanding)
  • Focus (really concentrate on one thing at a time, difficult for multi-taskers)
  • Play
Fragment your 60 (or 90) min practice however you see fit, but I suggest the following:
  • 00-05: Play something you like, relax and get comfortable, Remind yourself why you love music
  • 05-15  Practice dedicate//focus on one thing: scales in a particular key, or a simple melody played well
  • 15-25  Work on chord shapes and clarity of changing from one position to another - same key
  • 25-35  Single String exercises (my website lesson room), and hear yourself well, think symmetry
  • 35-45  Rhythm patterns and symmetry, play simple rhythms well and consider the importance
  • 45-55  Practice a song melody in multiple keys, 1st position
  • 55-00  Play a song you like, the same one as before, or a different one. Remind yourself why you love music
Keep a journal of what you worked on, what you accomplished (if anything), what needs further effort, and what else needs to be worked on. You can split the hour with left hand focus then right hand focus, you could also alternate days for that as well, but I don't suggest splitting the 10-min segments. 10 min segments are probably best used focusing on one aspect/technique or one hand at a time.
Practice 3 days and play 1 day. What I mean by that is, in the time allotted for practice, take an hour and just play - no practice 1 of 4.

Try this for a month. See if you can see some signs of progress.

I hope this helps.

I also offer online lessons one on one. E-mail me if you are interested.